Maria Montessori is known for having created the educational model that we know as the “Montessori Method”. However, his biography is much more extensive. She was also one of the first women to obtain a medical degree in Italy and participated as an activist in the defense of the rights of women and children.
Maria Montessori also specialized in areas such as biology, philosophy and psychology, which created knowledge and interventions on child development that continue to this day.
Maria Montessori: biography of this doctor and activist
Maria Montessori was born in Chiaravalle, province of Ancona, Italy, on August 31, 1870. The only daughter of a military father descended from the nobility of Bologna who had fought for independence from Italy; and from a liberal, Catholic and intellectual mother, the family developed in the world of philosophy, science and research.
It is not surprising that the rest of her biography developed as it did: At just 12 years old, Maria Montessori and her family moved to the city of Rome, intending to ensure that she would study in the best schools of the time.
During her stay here, she showed special interest and skills in mathematics, so despite her father’s desire to become a teacher, Maria Montessori enrolled in a technical engineering school where only men attended.
A year later, his interest in studying medicine was born, so he decided to quit engineering and start further studies at the age of 22, despite the rejection and initial rejection of the director, his father and colleagues., who viewed the medical career as a specialty that could only be practiced by men.
Finally, in 1896, at the age of 26, Maria Montessori became one of the first female doctors in ItalyIn the same year, she was elected representative of Italian women at the Feminist Congress held in Berlin, where she advocated for equal rights for women.
At the same time, he denounced the situation of children working in mines in Sicily, adding to the fight against child labor. Some time later and motivated by an awareness of social justice, she started working in psychiatric clinics and schools where children with intellectual disabilities mainly attended under very precarious conditions. At one point, Maria Montessori had continued to study biology, philosophy and psychology, both in Italy and in France and England.
It was these experiences that finally enabled him to develop the teaching method that bears his name.
From medicine to pedagogy: the beginnings of the Montessori method
At the time when Maria Montessori lived, medicine was very interested in finding treatments and even a “cure” for certain conditions such as deafness, paralysis, intellectual disability, etc. But what Maria Montessori observed while working with boys and girls suffering from these conditions is that what they really needed was not medicine, but pedagogy.
Maria Montessori made numerous observations at the Psychiatric Clinic at the University of Rome, which led her to realize that the real problem that many children with disabilities will play in a way that seemed socially inappropriate, was that they were boring, because no they had educational material. Moreover, the space they found themselves in was very messy and their conditions were quite precarious.
From there, Maria Montessori came up with the idea of building a pleasant environment, she was convinced that the conditions of space and materials were crucial for the development of intellectual and social skills of children. At this precise moment, he learns that there are two French doctors who have developed an educational method in the same spirit, so he goes to Paris to question them.
On her return, the Italian State had inaugurated an institute intended to promote the intellectual skills of disabled people (School of Orthophrenia), where Maria Montessori she got the post of principal and continued as a teacher trainer, As well as university professor and lecturer in different cities.
What was the first Montessori school?
Finally, Maria Montessori had the opportunity to create her own school. In January 1907, he inaugurated in Italy the first Casa dei Bambini (Children’s House – name by which the class is known to this day, or Montessori environment, for children from 3 to 6 years old).
He paid special attention to how the environment would be prepared, he ordered child-friendly furniture (which at the time was quite innovative). He also designed educational material adapted to the age and sensitive periods of the children and hired a teacher as an assistant. Together they started working with around 50 children.
Maria montessori he continued to constantly observe the evolution of boys and girls, in order to be able to continue to develop his educational method.. In the same way, he was able to continue to design activities and educational material, but above all he was able to found the theoretical and empirical principles that define the method to this day.
Maria Montessori had finally become a teacher (as her father had wanted), but her biography shows us that she was also a woman who revolutionized traditional forms of teaching-learning: maintaining the commitment to respect boys and girls. girls, being able to recognize what they needed to learn more easily.
His method was first recognized as a “scientific pedagogy” which ultimately had repercussions in homes., Because it was known that boys and girls very easily moved their knowledge and habits at home and also made public spaces. He ushered in a way to foster children’s development that has implications far beyond formal education and schools themselves.
- Pussin, C. (2017). Montessori explained to parents. Theory and practice of Montessori pedagogy at school and at home. Editorial platform: Barcelona
- Obregón, The Netherlands (2006). Who was Maria Montessori. Contributions of the Coatepecs, 10: 149-171.